by Elaina M. Ellis
With an ironic swish of the skirt, Elaina M. Ellis has delivered a sweetly strange first collection of poems. Reinventing femininity with each teasing line-break, Ellis pulls sexuality from form, and vulnerability from meter. By turns playful, blunt, and prayerful, Write About an Empty Birdcage documents the painful end of a romantic relationship; revels in the budding of new desire; and ultimately allows hope to climb quietly in through the back window. The poems which explicitly explore identity — femaleness, Jewishness, queerness — do so with a critique of power that blends humor, bloodied confession, and a reverence for tension. Ellis is a new poet to watch out for, neither belonging to the full-open swing of spoken word, nor to the inaccessibility of academia: the sonnet is a torch song, the prose poem is a fist. Here you find all the fleshy reveal of the truth, without the ease of nakedness. Write About an Empty Birdcage is a book of poetry that is worth the work of undressing.